Monday, September 25, 2023
Courthouse News Service
Monday, September 25, 2023 | Back issues
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Grandfather Shouldn’t Have Won Custody

(CN) - An Ohio man was improperly awarded temporary custody of a grandchild who had been living with her mother in Arizona for years, the Ohio Supreme Court ruled.

V.K.B. had sole custody of her autistic child, J.B., since 2009 and moved with her to Arizona. She visited Ohio in 2012 and temporarily left the child with her mother when she was called back to Arizona for a job interview.

While V.K.B. was away, the child's paternal grandfather filed an ex parte motion for temporary custody, which the Sandusky Juvenile Court granted.

V.K.B. complained that the Ohio court lacked jurisdiction since she was a resident of Arizona, but the Ohio Court of Appeals dismissed her request for a writ of prohibition after finding that the juvenile court had jurisdiction under the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act.

The Ohio Supreme Court reversed last week and ordered that the child be returned to her mother immediately.

In an unsigned opinion, the court noted that V.K.B. had filed a child-custody proceeding in Arizona.

"The juvenile court in Ohio, although it is aware of the Arizona filing, has apparently not communicated with the Arizona court to resolve the emergency, nor has it determined a period of duration of the temporary order; the order states only that the grandfather is granted immediate custody 'until a full and fair hearing may be held,'" the justices wrote. "That was a year ago."

Continuing the judicial controversy would also mean that 5-year-old J.B. spends more time away from her mother, according to the ruling.

"Instead of a toddler, J.B. will be seven, eight or even nine years old," the justices wrote. "The formative years she spent away from her mother can never be recaptured. The problem is particularly acute here, as J.B. has been diagnosed as autistic."

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